Wednesday 9 May 2018

Nurses and Hospitals

It's hard to imagine that up until fairly recently it was expected that when a woman got married she would give up her career. This was certainly the expectation in nursing. Recently we interviewed Elsie Evans, who began her nursing career in the early 1940s.
"...I went from that to the theatres and I stayed in the theatres until about '48, and then I moved over to King George which was the obstetric hospital attached to PA. I stayed there until I was married because then you had to resign."
One way for these women to continue their nursing career was to set up a private hospital. Elsie explains - "That's why you saw a lot of these obstetric hospitals set up by nurse so-and-so. They would just get a house and set it up as an obstetric hospital but you couldn't work in the public system."
Historically Florence Nightingale had given the vocation of nursing respectability for women. She had also, supported by Sir Henry Parkes, been in favour of the idea of matrons managing hospitals, not being subordinate to doctors.
With no hospital in Campbelltown, one of the earliest of these private hospitals was at Mrs Huckstepp's home "The Pines", in Innes Street. Run by Nurse (Mrs) Rachel Huckstepp, it provided maternity facilities for expectant mothers. Mrs Huckstepp's eldest daughter would be sent to fetch Dr Mawson when a birth was anticipated, and Mrs Huckstepp would also accompany Dr Mawson to more distant properties when he attended women giving birth at home.
Rachel Huckstepp (photo CAHS, donated by Judy Coppini)

A number of other hospitals were operating, including "Kyla" in Lithgow Street, run by Nurse Newbury, from the beginning of WWI and "Norma" in Warby Street, under the care of Nurse Brock and Nurse Wilson in the 1920s. Nurse Wilson would later move to "Nattai" in Lindesay Street.
Two of the more well known private hospitals were "Avro" in Coogan Lane, and "Milby" in Queen Street. "Avro" operated during the '30s to the '50s and "Milby" from the '20s to the '50s. "Milby" was primarily a maternity hospital but did take other types of patients.
Also in the '50s were "Bramwell" and "Braemar".
If anyone has any memories of these early private hospitals we'd love to hear from you!

Written by Claire Lynch

Elsie Evans oral history - Campbelltown City Library
Grist Mills Vol.12 No.1 "The Huckstepp Family"
Campbelltown - The Bicentennial History - Carole Liston
From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession : the journey of nursing in Australia - Dr Georgina Willetts


  1. According to my birth certificate i was born at "Avro" private hospital Campelltown in 1951. Is there any hope of seeing a photo of this establishment at that particular time please?

  2. Campbelltown Library doesn't hold one however I am trying to chase one up for you. Will be in touch again.

  3. Could you please send an email to and I will email you some images I have received.

  4. My grandmother gave birth to a set of twin boys on 22 August 1917 in Nurse Newbury Private Hospital Campbelltown. I am researching family history and would like to know more information and some pictures if they are available. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated